B-movies don't deserve any special treatment. Some people think we need to lower our standards for such productions, but to me, a movie is a movie, and each must stand on its own merits. Fright Night, the popular 1985 scream-feast by Tom Holland, is truly a B-movie. But it knows that and uses all the traditional B-movie clichés: campy situations, high school students, cheesy performances, bare breasts, make-out scenes, and so on. It's often a laughable exposition of silliness.
But often it's not, and during the second half, the movie does indeed offer some big screams. Suspend disbelief for two hours, follow the story, and you might find yourself having a good time during Fright Night. The first half doesn't work. It lacks style, suspense, and intrigue, and the characters are not very interesting. The real scares find an outlet in the third act, and boy, will some of those scenes give me nightmares for a long time to come. Unfortunately, even with a man's flesh melting from his skeleton before our eyes, I wanted more from the film.
Fright Night details the misadventures of a 17-year-old named Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) who discovers that a bloodsucking vampire (Chris Sarandon) has occupied the vacant house next door. Of course, most people refuse to believe such nonsense, including his mother, girlfriend (Amanda Bearse), and best friend Evil (Stephen Geoffreys), a guy who knows a thing or two about horror myths. Not even the aging actor Vincent (Roddy McDowall, whose career consists of playing apes and vampire hunters) believes Charley. His mother, being the kind person that she is, even tries to calm the situation down by inviting the new neighbor over for a drink.
The actors take their roles somewhat seriously. The late McDowall delivers the film's best performance with a nifty little cockiness. And Chris Sarandon brings a devious charm to the vampire. Stephen Geoffreys' utter goofball probably has the most fun of all the actors.
The movie could have gone farther with gore, blood sucking, and gratuitous sex. Tom Holland has some fun with the material, but it never completely satisfies. The ending saves the movie, though, thanks to some astonishing special effects. Scar-eeee!